Ajanta Caves: Painting, Sculpture, History, And Location

Ajanta caves are ancient Buddhist temples located in the Sambhaji Nagar district of Maharashtra State of India. The Ajanta caves were built under the patronage of the Hindu Satvahan Dynast from 100 BCE to 100 CE.  The murals of Ajanta are recognized as the greatest art and finest picture gallery produced in any century.    The sculptor and painting in the caves reflect the Mahayana and Hinayana sections of Buddhism. Ajanta caves painting and rock-cut architecture are the best examples of ancient Buddhist Indian art. Ajanta cave is a group of 30 rock-cut caves. These caves show the glory of Gautama Buddha’s life, and achievement related to the Jataka tales. These include Buddhist life, the belief system at that time, and a reflection of its value in art. The earlier name of Sambhaji Nagar was Aurangabad. Ajanta caves are accessible by road from different places in Maharashtra. Every year lot of Indians, as well as foreigners, visit the Ajanta caves.

Ajanta Caves Paintings

The Ajanta cave painting is the best surviving example of ancient Buddhist Indian art. The murals of Ajanta caves are recognized as the greatest art and picture gallery of any century in the world. The colors used in the painting were made of plants, cow dunk, and minerals. The painting in Ajanta caves is related to Jataka tales which show the past lives and rebirth of Buddha in pictorial tells. Jataka tales are sacred Buddhist literature. The painting was done during the period of 100 BCE to 100 BCE under the Hindu Satavahana Dynasty. Some of the 5 best paining in Ajanta caves are Bodhisattva Padmapani, King Janaka & wife, Persian Ambassador, Vajrapani, and seating Buddha in dharma chakra parivartan mudra.

Most of the caves were Buddhist monasteries whereas some of them were decorated with paintings. The painting of most of the caves was done in the light of a torch as there was no light. The caves were dark inside. Artistry was achieved with only primitive tools in those days. The color of the painting is vivid even after 1500 years. But now over the years, it is seen that aging of the colors because of a lot of tourists visiting every year, maintenance problems, and changing environment. The murals have the colors brown, black, white, and yellow. The painting technique in Ajanta caves is similar to the European fresco technique.

Photo by Priyanka Singh on Unsplash

Ajanta Caves Sculpture

The sculpture of Ajanta caves is remarkable for its elegance grace, restraint, and serenity. The sculpture of Ajanta caves is from the 4th century AD.Ajanta caves were built from Basalt accumulated in rocks due to a volcano long back.  The worker carved decorative pillars, brackets, sculptures, idols, and richly etched roofs out of the rock. The worker used a hammer and chisel to carve the sculptures. With the help of hammer and chisel workers cut the caves into the face of the mountain. There was the possibility of breaking the rock. The worker applied great skill to cut the rock. The architecture is cathedral-type architecture observed in ancient Buddhist caves located in another part of India like Gaya in Bihar state. It is believed that the shape of the caves is like a horseshoe. All the 30 caves of Buddhist architecture in Ajanta are the best example of sculpture and painting. The architecture of these Buddhist caves is a masterpiece of Buddhist religious art. Every cave is unique artistic creation. This is the greatest achievement in ancient Buddhist rock rock-cut architecture. The caves are high at 70 meters from the ground level.

Photo by Setu Chhaya on Unsplash

History Of Ajanta Caves

Ajanta caves were made in two different phases. The first phase is from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. The second phase is several centuries later. There are 30 caves. Out of these 30 caves, caves 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15A are built in the first phase during the period of the Satavahan Dynasty. The murals in these caves depict the stories from Jatakas tales (Jataka Katha). The caves in the second phase are different as compared to the first phase. The caves in the second phase influenced the Gupta Dynasty from 100BCE to 100CE. The cave was inscribed by the Buddhist monk under the patronage of King Vakataka during the region of Harishena. At the end of his region, the caves were abandoned. The caves are ancient monasteries and worship halls of different Buddhist traditions of Hinayana and Mahayana. The earlier phase of the caves relates to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism while the latter part is related to Mahayana. Along with the Buddhist, caves, there are Jain, and Hindu caves also.  John Smith discovered the Ajanta caves in 1819 when he was moving to that area. Then he called the local people to remove the grass around the caves. These caves are listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

Photo by Priyanka Singh on Unsplash

Location Of  Ajanta caves

Ajanta Caves are located in Sambhaji Nagar district of Maharashtra state, India. Ajanta is a small village where the caves are located. The nearest airport and railway station is Sambhaji Nagar. The Ajanta caves are well connected by road to all major cities in Maharashtra like Sambhaji Nagar, Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Nagpur, Jalna, and Jalgaon.  The distance of Ajanta caves from Sambhaji Nagar is 107 km, from Fardapur 6 km, from Jalgaon 60, and from Mumbai 350 km. Ellora caves is another destination famous for rock-cut caves of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist in Maharashtra.  The distance between Ajanta caves and Ellora caves is 100 km. Sambhaji Nagar is well connected to major railway stations in India. Aurangabad is also connected to the major airport in India. The name of the Sambhaji Nagar airport is Sambhaji Nagar Airport located at a distance of 5 km at Chikhalthana from the Sambhaji Nagar bus stand.  The address of Ajanta caves in Maharashtra is 431117. The busses and taxis are available from Sambhaji Nagar to Ajanta caves

I hope this information about the Ajanta caves in India will be useful to you for planning the trip.

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One thought on “Ajanta Caves: Painting, Sculpture, History, And Location

  1. Rock shelters in India have unique story which marked the evolution of colonial, vernacular and contemporary art form. The elements of nature in the hills are beguiling and beautiful, challenging and charming. They create the fundamental environment, defines the spatial order and humans adapts to these forces. He also creates his habitat and shelter in consonance with the laws of nature. The use of space for architectural and the art are spontaneous, unconscious and surrounded with cultural ethos of the people, and is close to the roots of life.

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